Hacks for setting up a healthy company culture and showcasing it
Originally published on PURE LAMBDA.
Ask your small band of software engineers and IT professionals how everything is going.
You might get different answers, but how your employees give their responses can be quite revealing. It can indicate how well things are going for your company — in particular, the work culture that has been cultivated.
Healthy company culture is pivotal to any business — even for startups. As a business scales, work culture will lay the foundations for how it introduces new products, hires employees, and resolves internal conflicts.
How you set up your work culture and the timing will mean the difference between inspiring your employees and inciting a virtual walkout. Setting up a healthy and inclusive culture in your business will go far in preventing burnout and marketing your organization to prospective applicants.
Following these tips and tricks, your startup will feel more like a second home for your team and less of a corporate hierarchy.
The Benefits of a Healthy Company Culture: The Proof is in the Pudding
There is a prevailing misconception going around that revenue is the hallmark of a prosperous company. While making large profits with your products and services is a must to sustain your organization, it is a by-product.
In truth, profit is only part of the benefits you will reap from creating and sustaining a positive corporate environment. How else can you benefit from a worker-centered corporate atmosphere?
Let us count the ways:
1. Better Recruitment
Wolter Smith in his TED talk opened his presentation with a rhetorical question. He asked why work sucks. Indeed, work not being the most satisfying part of the day is something some of us has become accustomed to putting up with.
In his talk, he distinguished unsatisfying work from an unsatisfying work environment. He observed that, in most cases, most employees mean the latter whenever they bring up the former.
So, if you can create a healthy company environment, it may just lure unsatisfied workers your way.
2. Improved Productivity
If your company culture is healthy, your social dynamics and the psychological well-being of everyone who makes up your team will be healthy as well. When everyone is happy coming to work, productivity will go through the roof.
A 2018 article in Forbes also states that motivation increases in companies with an atmosphere of collaboration and low social tension. Because everyone is working to the best of their abilities, you can expect the rise in motivation and productivity to have a snowballing effect.
3. Low Turnover Rates
An employee leaving may not be a big deal for large corporations. For tech startups, the results can be catastrophic. According to Built In, companies with high employee turnover rates end up spending more on onboarding. Conversely, those with low turnover rates bring in four times more revenue than companies where employees frequently leave.
Are high turnover rates always the result of a toxic corporate culture? The numbers seem to agree. The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness found that employees are 50% to 60% more likely to seek employment elsewhere in favor of better company culture and structure. ( Check out the infographic)
Think of it this way:
Decent companies hire people to do what they are being told. Excellent companies hire people to carry forward a mission with a purpose, to redefine their role as needed when they outgrow their current one or gain new skills, and to lead others around them. Ultimately, those companies retain employees and are on the path to success.
4. Employee Morale
When your employees or team know that they are valued and cared for, they will be more eager to show up and deliver their best. In an environment where the stress and toxicity are low, you can bet that your team will work not just effectively but willingly and happily.
What To Do to Create a Healthy Company Culture
Creating a healthy company culture will benefit your organization not just during its infancy. As you scale your business, having established it early gives you the blueprints for what to sustain.
Here are ways to start your work culture off on the right foot. The following practices are also excellent if you are looking to change your startup’s existing corporate atmosphere and culture.
Tip 1: Ditch the Idea of On-the-Hour Deadlines
When you manage your team, the last thing you want to do is micromanage. Micromanagement can take a psychological toll on everyone — including you. One of the most common areas where micromanagement occurs is with deadlines.
Granted, you need to ensure that everything gets done properly and on time. When your IT professionals work, be it from home, in a coworking space, or in your office, the time they turn in work is only one part of the equation.
Your deadlines need to be a marriage of two things — an agreed-upon deadline and results. When you set deadlines, be mindful of what your team members are capable of. Make sure to have clear validation steps. This awareness will guide your scheduling.
It is also crucial to discuss the deadline with your staff or its members whenever possible. After all, what might seem easy at a glance may take a lot longer than expected.
When you get rid of the traditional way of implementing deadlines, the results are not just at par with your expectations. Your team works better, devoid of any stress or unnecessary time pressures.
Tip 2. Promote Collaboration
It is easy to call a meeting and sing praises to your team about the plus sides of collaboration. Although not a bad idea, doing this may not always guarantee results. An important step to ensuring that your team works together is to plant the seed of thought that blooms into consistent interaction.
One thing you might need to avoid is sending DMs to every staff member about the day’s agendas and tasks. When you think about it, this is what meetings are for. Instead, try a project management or business communication platform where everyone has equal access, or even a simple Google Doc to start.
This creates a common area where team members can interact and pitch in whenever problems arise. If you are in the market for one, make sure that it has forum and messenger functions for better communication and collaboration. Examples of such platforms include:
Task management tools:
- Google Docs: Collaborative tool to work on documents as a team
Tip 3. Always Encourage Communication and Feedback
Communication, honesty, and integrity are crucial to any relationship — in life and at work. Opening channels of communication allows you to determine the pain points of your employees. Doing this will, in turn, give you valuable insights on what to work on.
Perhaps the most eye-opening benefit of promoting and encouraging open communication is how it makes your team feel. Based on the most recent statistics gathered by the CMOE, making employees feel that they matter goes a long way in making them stay. In fact, employees are 60% more likely to rethink their decision to leave if their employer listens to their suggestions and input.
Encouraging communication is undoubtedly the key to healthy social dynamics within a corporate hierarchy. However, despite its importance, it is also the easiest to do. It costs little to no money and requires nothing more than a modest investment of time. An open-door policy alone is one example of a simple rule that yields big (positive) consequences.
All you need to do is ask your employees for feedback on, well, anything going on at work — and, at times, out of it.
Other ways to encourage open communication are:
- Giving out monthly feedback forms
- Having a suggestion box
- Having an open-door policy
Tip 4. Give Out Recognition and Take Accountability
Here is another company culture-builder that is simple to implement but easily forgotten.
Employees become more motivated to work when they are recognized for their accomplishments. When a member of your team does great work on something, do not hesitate to offer praise or a compliment.
Your team’s accomplishments do not need to be groundbreaking. You can acknowledge your team for any positive contribution they make to your startup. For example, if you have a software engineer who always turns in work 30 minutes ahead of the usual deadline, tell him or her that you take notice and you appreciate it.
What if things go wrong? In such situations, you step up and take accountability instead of pointing the finger. Play the blame game, and your company culture will go from average to toxic real quick.
Tip 5: Pay Attention to Your Selection Process
It’s important to select the right people for your positions. You should hire people based on the kind of environment you want to have and maintain in your organization. Establishing the right personality traits and working style can be difficult, but it will be a worthwhile investment of your time.
To hire successfully, have a list of personality traits you think will be conducive to your existing company culture. Then, during interviews, ask questions that will bring about these traits in candidates.
For example, if you are looking for a software engineer who can work independently, you may want to ask questions about:
- Work-from-home experience
- Time management styles
- Preferred leisure activities
You get the idea. Essentially, the selection process should not focus too much on what lies in a resume. Be too CV-centric in your selection, and you may hire someone who may be qualified but will not fit your team.
Showing Off Your Inclusive and Healthy Culture
Hiring the right people can be challenging. At times, it is a matter of applicants not matching the characteristics you seek. Sometimes, though, job seekers just aren’t attracted to the company.
While marketing to consumers is important, you also need to advertise your company to prospective applicants. Your healthy company culture can play a major role in this — provided that you showcase it.
How do you market yourself as a different company from other startups? Here are a couple of things you can do:
1. Leverage Social Proof and Social Media
Brand awareness does more than show your customers what you offer. It tells prospective software engineers who you are as a company.
By looking at your services, prospective applicants will try to size up your company culture. Of course, the products on your site and social media page can only tell them so much.
If you are going to take to social media with your recruitment and marketing, a statement from a team member can drive applications. Think of the member of your staff as a spokesperson for your company.
Several positive statements from different members of your team can entice devs to apply. This is the power of social proofing at work. You can focus on platforms like GlassDoor or AngelList that list all the companies and their reviews.
Online events, podcasts, blogs, and Meetups can also be a great way to advertise your company culture.
2. Place Your Inclusive and Healthy Culture at the Heart of Your Employee Value Proposition
Attracting potential candidates with salaries can only get you so far. As mentioned earlier, employees leave their companies due to problems with the culture of the workplace. With this in mind, you will be better off marketing your company with its corporate culture.
By doing this, you will improve your chances of attracting candidates whose personal values resonate with yours and your company’s. This can pay dividends during your selection process and employee retention.
Key Takeaway: Put Your Team First, and Everything Else Will Follow
Creating a healthy company culture may seem like a daunting task. Nonetheless, doing so can open your business up to better applicants, improvements in productivity, and better employee retention and morale.
At the very core, creating an inclusive and healthy corporate culture boils down to putting your staff first. Setting up your company to be one that is positive and pro-employee will involve:
- Being progressive and flexible with how and when you want work done ; focus on results rather than time spent on a task
- Promoting teamwork
- Opening channels of communication
- Recognizing accomplishments (big or small)
- Being deliberate in who you have new hires join your team
Get all of the above right, and your company will not just be productive; it will also scale faster and lower your hiring costs as more people want to join your venture.
AI-generated conclusion: It’s important to remember that your company culture is not just about the way you do your work. It’s about the way you do your work and the way you do your work.